Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has outlined an end to the country’s power debacle; proposing 700 kilovolts- an estimated 3.5-billion-dollar electricity grid that will reduce the amount of power currently lost in transmission. But does his promise to generate more electric power highlight his own power goal ahead of next year’s presidential elections?
Nigeria’s poor electricity supply is proving a major barrier to the operation and growth of business, information and communication technologies in the nation, as both public and private institutions resort to diesel-propelled generators, albeit being expensive and environmentally unfriendly.
Despite being the world’s eighth-largest oil exporter, corruption has hindered the provision of electricity around the country as the west African country ironically imports substantial levels of petrol.
And whilst Nigeria produces 2,500 megawatts a day of electricity out of a total maximum daily production capacity of 3,000 megawatts, its 150 million people only have enough electricity for a 100 watt light bulb per one out five Nigerians around the clock.
The government’s inability to provide infrastructure that would ensure the country’s potential electricity need of approximately 30,000 megawatts daily,
and adequate service has affected power distribution.
Goodluck Jonathan’s goals
President Jonathan has identified improved electricity supply as a key goal in his presidency as Nigeria continues to suffer the setbacks of a broke power transmission sector. Reports indicate that the new grid would be built in four years as plans to privatize parts of the power generation chain are also considered.
“President Jonathan directed that it should be funded as a federal asset with additional financing from private investors and international finance and development agencies,” a statement from the presidency read.
In spite of the new plan, experts argue that the solution to Nigeria’s electricity problem lies in the proper harnessing of the country’s abundant natural gas, and some have questioned the plan’s timing.
Indeed, the pledge to fix a frail power producing system comes as Presidential elections, in which President Jonathan is widely expected to run, are set for early next year. Observers have called his pledge to fix one of Nigeria’s biggest issues, a pre-election promise.
Notwithstanding his party’s tradition, whereby the PDP’s presidential candidates rotate between Northerners and Southerners on two term basis, Jonathan’s steps to boost Nigeria’s electric power generation only a few months away from the presidential elections may boost his own power potential.